Tasting Table Test Kitchen


Tenderloin and a spicy avocado sauce amp up cheesy quesadillas 

| Recipes | Alexis deBoschnek

We test and taste every recipe we publish. While we collaborate with a lot of talented chefs, we adapt and tinker with everything in our test kitchen. (It smells really good in here). Our goal is to make sure every recipe works as well in your home kitchen as it does in ours. So go on, get cooking with confidence.


Spicy, lime-y guasacaca sauce is a high-flavor alternative to the standard salsa or guacamole.

Pricey beef tenderloin might not be the first protein you think of when it comes to bulking up a cheese quesadilla. After all, this cut is most often reserved for filet mignon or chateaubriand. But when used smartly, a little tenderloin goes a long way. For this simple quesadilla, we seared the steak, then matched it with something saucy and spicy: a Venezuelan-style guasacaca sauce made from avocados, onion, vinegar, lime and jalapeños. The condiment is like a thin, tangy hybrid of salsa and guacamole, and is as fun to say as it is to eat.

Steak Quesadillas with Guasacaca Sauce

Yield: 2 quesadillas

Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus 5 minutes resting)
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

  • ½ pound beef tenderloin, halved lengthwise into 2 long pieces

    2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    2 small, ripe avocados--halved, pitted and roughly chopped

    ½ small white onion, roughly chopped

    1 small poblano chile or ½ small green bell pepper, roughly chopped

    ½ cup fresh cilantro

    1 small jalapeño, roughly chopped

    1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

    3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

    Juice of 1 lime

    ¼ cup canola or grapeseed oil, divided

    Four 8-inch flour tortillas

    2 cups shredded good-quality melting cheese, such as Monterey Jack or Oaxaca

    2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo, or your favorite hot sauce


1. Set the tenderloin pieces on a cutting board and rub them with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Set aside.

2. Make the guasacaca: In the bowl of a food processor, add the avocados, onion, poblano chile, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, vinegar, lime juice and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth; then, with the machine running, add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil, processing until smooth.

3. Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until it smokes, about 2 minutes. Divide 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over the tenderloin pieces, rubbing it all over. Cook until all sides are browned and the internal temperature reads between 125° and 130°, about 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and rest the steak for 5 minutes, then slice crosswise into ¼-inch-thick pieces (about 16 slices total).

4. Set the cleaned skillet over medium heat and add 1½ teaspoons of the canola oil. Add a tortilla followed by ½ cup of cheese, 8 tenderloin slices and another ½ cup cheese. Place another tortilla on top. Cook until the tortilla is browned, 2 to 2½ minutes, then use a metal spatula to flip. Cook until the other side is browned, about 1½ to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the quesadilla to a clean cutting board. Repeat with the remaining ½ teaspoon of canola oil and the remaining tortillas, cheese and steak. Slice the quesadillas into quarters and serve topped with the guasacaca and a drizzle of adobo sauce.

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